Magazine article American Banker

National City Will Arm Branches with CRM

Magazine article American Banker

National City Will Arm Branches with CRM

Article excerpt

Cost cutting and caution may be prompting some banks to delay customer relationship management programs, but others are pushing forward with major efforts.

In the next few months, National City Corp. will begin to roll out its $120 million Customer Connections program to branches.

"Essentially, we want to create a corporate memory," said Phil Oshman, a senior vice president for customer information and segment management at the Cleveland banking company, whose assets top $100 billion.

National City has been developing Customer Connections for 18 months. It is an ambitious effort to create a single database that will have data on every customer gleaned from every touchpoint. The goal is to improve service while increasing the number of products sold to each customer.

To achieve this, it will install new hardware systems in each branch, starting with the machines used by tellers and loan officers. A similar installation in the call centers will come next.

National City expects to convert the first branches within the next few months. Shifting over the rest of its 1,100 branches should stretch into next year.

"A lot of planning has gone into this," Mr. Oshman said. "It's just a massive project."

According to Guy Creese, a research director at Aberdeen Group, a Boston consulting firm, an effort of this size is unusual. Though CRM was very popular a few years ago, the slumping market and some horror stories have scared off many companies.

"Almost nobody these days is funding a from-scratch data warehousing project," Mr. …

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